Ground was broken on phase one of the revitalization of the old J.B. Robinson Oyster House site along the Seaford River Walk.
Seaford Mayor David Genshaw and Chesapeake Conservancy Board Chair Randall Larrimore were on hand to mark the occasion.
This initial phase will be focused on enhancing access to the Nanticoke River. The bulkhead will be reconstructed to stabilize the shoreline, a living shoreline will be planted, and the Seaford River Walk will be extended with fishing nooks for community use.
Other amenities include a performance deck, boat docking facilities, and a kayak launch. The first phase is projected to be ready for public use by summer 2021.
The total project cost this phase is $1.2 million, which is funded through a mix of private and public resources including state transportation funding, funding from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Longwood Foundation, Crystal Trust, Welfare Foundation, and REI.
In 2018, Chesapeake Conservancy, a nonprofit based in Annapolis, MD, partnered with the City of Seaford and the Mt. Cuba Center to purchase and donate the 1-acre waterfront parcel to the city. Chesapeake Conservancy then worked with the City of Seaford in a year-long public planning and comment period process to seek community input that was incorporated into a draft master plan for the Oyster House Park.
In late February 2020, the City Council approved a master plan calling for four stages of the park’s construction. Through resources raised by Chesapeake Conservancy, construction bid documents were designed and released in the summer of 2020, and Dissen & Juhn was chosen through a competitive bidding process for the first phase of the project.
Subsequent phases are planned to take place over a five-year period, with each phase focused on providing benefits for the community that can be enjoyed immediately upon completion.
The park complements a number of other conservation projects downstream and along the Nanticoke River, one of the few tributaries to the Chesapeake that remain unspoiled and offer an area of very high biological diversity, a release stated.
Through partnerships with the United States Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration Program (REPI), The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Mt. Cuba Center, Sussex County Land Trust, Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy, and others, Chesapeake Conservancy has helped conserve 2,700 acres in 19 projects across the corridor linking Vienna, MD, to Seaford.
The 19 projects link to other previously conserved properties and refuges, which creates 19,300 total acres of conserved land in the Nanticoke River.
“We are very excited this day is here-the kick-off of the first phase of the development of the Oyster House Park,” said Seaford Mayor David Genshaw. “This project features numerous components, which are important to the City of Seaford, such as giving public access to the Nanticoke River, promoting our Seaford history, driving economic revitalization to our downtown, all while promoting and protecting the environment of our Nanticoke River. Partnering with the Chesapeake Conservancy, along with Mt. Cuba has blessed our city, and we cannot thank them enough for their leadership on this project.
“The Seaford Oyster House Park will stand as a powerful example of how communities can leverage conservation and public access to natural assets like the Nanticoke River in order to provide new economic opportunities like outdoor recreation and tourism, and in turn, help to transform communities themselves,” said Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn.